Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The (not-so-thrilling) conclusion of Buffy

One of the greatest joys in life is turning one of your best friends on to something that you really, really like. I managed to do that a few years ago, when I convinced my friend Kenny to check out Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After years of dedicatedly absorbing the DVDs, he finally came to the end of the series. Here were his comments, and my response.

* * *

Well, we have arrived at the end of Buffy. Still a fair amount of Angel to go...still, it's the end of an era.
I have to say, I found the last episode both puzzling and disappointing.
Let me start out by saying what I was *not* disappointed by. Buffy didn't die. No one really died, I suppose, except Anya and Spike: the original Scooby crew made it out alive. That was pretty cool if only because it was so totally unexpected.
My biggest disappointment is the hardest to articulate: it just wasn't great. When Joss Whedon listed the top ten episodes, the last episode didn't make the list; it probably would not make most people's lists.
I can also say that the idea of turning every potential slayer into a real slayer is problematic in all sorts of ways. First, if it was that easy, why didn't they do it centuries ago? (Here I can imagine Joss Whedon holding up a picture of a ghostly-white Willow and saying "You call that easy?" Well, yeah.) Second, with no Watchers left, who is going to train all these suddenly super-powered girls; do they amount to a new super-race with no guidance and no reason to suppose they won't go all Kahn Noonian Singh on the rest of us, etc? Third, it turned out in the end to be irrelevant. Everything they did--the slayage, the super-weapon, all of it--turned out to be irrelevant.
All that mattered was Angel showing up and saying "Here's a pretty cool amulet, if Spike wears it it will wipe out all of Sunnyvale."
I looked at all the special features on the DVD (which I never do) hoping to find Whedon talking about the last episode, explaining it in more detail, but nothing. Does he have any writings on the subject?
I feel like it needs a whole lot of explanation.
Anyway, just so I don't end on a grumpy note, I can certainly say that it was one of the strongest TV series I have ever, ever, ever watched.
It was powerful and interesting and I'm going to miss it.

* * *

My response:

The only thing that I recall ever hearing Joss say about the last episode is that he liked the idea of empowering lots of young women -- it was a good bookend to how the series began, with the supposedly "helpless young woman"suddenly being the superhero. In terms of the plot arc, it was essential that Buffy no longer be THE Chosen One, just one of many, so she can free from the burden of being the sole saviour of the world. She has a chance at a somewhat normal life now, which seemed to be the only way she could escape the usual Slayer fate of burning out and dying young.
I was slightly troubled by the last-minute, out-of-nowhere conclusion as well. Only slightly, though, because I knew that Spike had to die, and he had earned the right to have a really spectacular hero's death, and burning up in a pillar of fire that wipes out all your enemies is pretty freakin' spectacular. Spike remains my all-time favorite TV character.



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